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23rd April, 2006

Indian mummy’s boys

by Sunny at 12:19 am    

I was on BBC Asian Network on Friday morning along with Bindiya Solanki (ex-Eastenders) and Nina Wadia (Goodness Gracious Me) commenting on a variety of things when this topic of marrying someone from the sub-continent came up.

It’s an old topic but bear with me. My position is that marriage is ideally with someone you can relate to culturally, hence it’s much better to find a British partner than, out of desperation, finding someone from there. Both my co-panelists made a point I hadn’t really thought about too much - that it’s always the guys more willing to find a wife from the sub-continent than the women. The latter usually prefer that as the last resort.

This would support my thesis that anyone who wants to marry a wife from home essentially wants a slave who can cook and clean for them and not complain about it. Why might this be the case? In yesterday’s Financial Times Gautam Malkani, author of Londonstani, explains his theory:

Indian boys are renowned for being mummy’s boys; Indian dads are renowned for being emotionally detached patriarchal figures; while Indian mums are renowned for being domineering, emotionally involved patriarchal figures. Although prescriptive hypotheses like this have a tendency to prove self-fulfilling, the usefulness of this theory seemed to be confirmed during interview after interview.

If Asian ‘rudeboys’ were thereby overshooting their masculinity and looking for cultural props with which to do so, no wonder they’d also reached out to gangsta rap music, successfully blending the elements of machismo, misogyny and homophobia in their parent’s culture with that inherent in hip-hop.

That would also explain the need for a woman from back home - they need someone to replace their mother.

What is interesting about Malkani’s piece, which is the basis of his book, is that when he went out to study Hounslow boys for his project (he was raised there too), he was asked to interpret his study in gender terms rather than racial terms. A stroke of brilliance.

Read the article in full [hat tip: al], there is a lot to chew on. There is something else mentioned that I want to highlight for another discussion later.

Filed under: South Asia, Culture
21st April, 2006

Democracy comes to Nepal

by Sunny at 2:54 pm    

BBC News has just sent out a news alert saying King Gyanendra has bowed to the pro-democracy protests and says he will hold elections and give power back to the people. This is excellent news for the Nepalese, with yesterday being the second day of mass protests in the capital Kathmandu despite a shoot-on-sight curfew. The people stood up for their rights and the King had to give in.

A pro-democracy protest had been planned in London for the 25th. Not sure if it will continue.

As an aside, Lenin yesterday called for the Maoists to take Nepal. Although I agree with him most of the time, I thought the call was incredibly uninformed and totally dismissed the 10s of 1000s of people the Maoists have killed and terrorised over the years.
News update: Bloomberg and IBN-Live

Dealing with superstitious villagers

by Sunny at 2:22 am    

A Bangladeshi woman who shook a baby boy so violently that he suffered brain damage walked free from court yesterday because a judge conceded that she did not know how to behave in the West.

Rahella Khanom, 24, caused the five-month-old boy in her care to suffer fractures to his breast bone and ribs as she tried to rid him of evil spirits, Southwark Crown Court was told.

“I accept you were kept really quite isolated from our society by your community and it would seem to a large extent by your husband as well. Under these circumstances I do not feel it is in the public interest to pass an immediate custodial sentence.” [The Times, via Wardyblog]

How does one deal with this? One the one hand I hate judges who let off criminals using the “it maybe in your culture” argument. No, if the person has done something criminal please lock them up. Stop treating Asians with kid-gloves as if they should be held to a lower standard of criminality or stupidity.

But will locking such villagers with mad superstitious tendencies help? I doubt it. They’ll remain forever locked to that mindset. The main problem seems to be that she is under severe stress since coming over and being ignored by her husband. So she takes it out on the kid.

Consequence: After being let off lightly, she is no better off. Others use this as a “multi-culturalism is bad” example. ‘Community leaders’ turn a blind eye. Government enacts some silly legislation after Daily Mail hysteria. Then ‘community groups’ complain of a nanny state. Nothing actually improves.
What may be the correct way to deal with this?

Filed under: South Asia, Culture
19th April, 2006

Doctors planning to protest

by Sunny at 3:11 pm    

Hundreds doctors on the NHS, of Indian origin, are planning a demonstration outside the Department of Health on Friday to protest against recent changes to immigration laws. The change may hit up to 15,000 international medics.

The Guardian explains:

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said that an estimated 15,000 international trainee doctors seeking posts or working on short-term contracts will be unable to complete their training and be forced to go home because of a law brought in as part of last month’s overhaul of immigration, which ruled that junior doctors from outside the EU should only be eligible for jobs that cannot be filled by a “homegrown” candidate.

Dr Billoo Joy, from Kerala, India, came to England two years ago, and is on a two-year contract in Norwich which will not be renewed. “I am still around £2,000 in debt from doing my Plab [the test to allow doctors to practise in the UK] and paying rent. It’s been a real struggle. I didn’t expect further uncertainty.

“If I had been told four years ago that this would have been the case I never would have come, but now if I go back to India I will have lost that training and will have to start again with no hope of paying off my debts. Before it was difficult to get a job. Now it’s impossible.”

While I see the need to encourage home-grown doctors, the government has quickly passed the law without any regard for the doctors already here. They are left stranded, unable to finish their terms or pay off debts, because employers have been told to overlook them.

18th April, 2006

Pro-democracy protests in Nepal…

by Sunny at 8:21 pm    

….now entering the 12th day. Pictures from here. This is excellent news. It’s about time Nepal had democracy. The people are stuck between an autocratic King on one side and the brutal Maoist rebels on the other.

16th April, 2006

It’s not just Christians celebrating this weekend

by SajiniW at 3:44 pm    

Sri Lankans of all races have been partying too. Not due to the first cross-ethnic phenomenon, mind (cricket), but the second! The thirteenth and fourteenth of April saw the Sinhala-Hindu New Year descend upon us.

Celebrated in the month of Bak according to the lunar calendar, the Sri Lankan New Year pays homage to the coming of spring. Co-incidentally, the name ‘Bak’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘bhagya’ meaning ‘fortunate’. Useful when this time of year sees the ripened rice paddy harvest being gathered in, giving a sense of plenty to rural Sri Lanka.

Strong similarities can be drawn with the Jewish observance of Pesach, earlier this week - it is a time for families to celebrate, exchange gifts, observe cultural rituals (such as eating the famous ‘kiribath’ milk rice) and wish for a prosperous new year. Further information can be found here.

15th April, 2006

The world is a funny place

by Sunny at 6:47 pm    

To generalise about people and races is a bad idea most of the time, even in tightly described circumstances. Here are four such examples:

The normally docile South Indians, specially in the ’silicon valley of India’ city of Bangalore, have been rioting so much on Thursday that eight people have died including one policeman. Why? Err, because the film start/ local demi-god Rajkumar died. Of natural causes. Software companies and UK based call centres estimate damages of $40 million. File under: wtf??.

In Iran, from where all we hear nuclear technology, mystic Sufism is on the rise. Given traditional hostility to this branch of Islam, the country seems to be more religious tolerant than China.

Eerie, from Aqoul, recently wrote an enlightening article on Brazilian waxing and Feminism. I quote:

The reason I chose to discuss bikini waxing is that it turns the traditional “conservative Muslim vs. liberal Westerner” paradigm on its head. Muslim women have no hangups about full pubic waxing, but the practice was positively scandalous for North American women up until a few years ago…

And finally to Canada where racial stereotypes of crime were completely flipped in a recent poll [via SM].

Of those in the poll who held ethnic groups most responsible, 56 per cent specifically identified “Indian/East Indian” and 45 per cent listed “Asian/Oriental,” the newspaper reported March 16.

By comparison, five per cent of the same group singled out “Caucasian/white” and only one per cent were worried about “Afro-American/Black,” “Middle Eastern/Arabs/Muslims” and “Italians.” [IndoLink]

Filed under: South Asia, Culture, Religion
12th April, 2006

Outsourcing the oldies back home

by Sunny at 1:25 am    

It’s a rare occasion, I know, but Eastern Eye has an interesting editorial this week. A company is building a special ‘township’ in India catering for British Asians who would want to send their oldies there to live there until, erm, the end. Housekeeping and six different types of meals will be included, apparently.

“It is a very realistic idea because we already have a lot of young people based in Britain who have explored the possibility of finding a home for their parents here. “It is quite feasible as care services in India are very well developed now.”

The work is actually being done by an NGO, but I think there is serious money to be made here (and if you make millions from this, I want a percentage dammit.)

Dignity Lifestyle, as the new township is known, is a first-of-its-kind concept in India. The foundation is emphatic about the fact that it is not an old-age home. It is about “productive ageing”, where the elderly are able to enjoy facilities like libraries, film shows and talks.

Interesting…. but here it the money quote:

“Our healthcare is sourced from the developing countries – how about turning the tables and outsourcing the elderly?”

How about we outsource our ‘community leaders’ so they can hatch controversies in their local village?

Joking aside, I think there is a potential timebomb that British Asians are sitting on. Most have totally different lifestyles and aspirations to their parents. Now imagine living with your parents for the rest of their lives. A lot of them don’t, which has led to an increasing number of Asian parents being ‘abandoned’, whiling their time away at the local gurudwara/mandir/mosque.

Filed under: South Asia, Culture, Humour
9th April, 2006

The people vs government of India

by Sunny at 6:39 pm    

After years of agitation, the controversy over the Narmada Dam Project is back in the news in India. This is an issue not only central to India’s development, but also a fight for hundreds of thousands of affected people. I have provided a brief background to the story and explain why you should take notice.

Continue Reading...
5th April, 2006

Blookers, Bloggers and Brown Bait

by SajiniW at 10:10 am    

It’s not just Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal making waves these days - Riverbend and Rana Dasgupta are also up for a literary treat or two…

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3rd April, 2006

Pakistani women fly high

by Fe'reeha at 11:08 pm    

The image alone will be enough to bring tears of joys into the eyes of the Pakistani women who have been involved in the struggle of equal opportunities since long. Women like Aasma Jehangir and Bilqis Edhi.

The airforce grounds always belonged to the men, and in the PAF world, so did the skies! But now four women have joined the fray and equality is coming to one of Pakistan’s biggest bastions of malehood….

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1st April, 2006

Why Indians bloggers need to get angry

by Sunny at 9:40 pm    

A bit of teasing… a cold blooded murder. Will justice be served. Maybe it will do. But will Indians wake up to the bigger problem?

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30th March, 2006

How the Indo-Pak rivalry is harming Wikipedia

by Vikrant at 3:09 am    

Wikipedia’s official policy states that in all articles should have a Neutral Point of View. Unfortunately they never took the India-Pakistan rivalry into account.

In a guest article for Pickled Politics, self-confessed ‘Wiki-holic’ Vikrant details how the massive online encyclopedia is getting bogged down by this jingoism and the hilarious headaches being created.

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28th March, 2006

Royalty visits Sikh Gurudwara

by Al-Hack at 6:25 pm    
Charles and Camilla

The prince and the duchess were shown the nine weapons of Guru Gobind Singh. They greeted priests in the temple - or gurdwara - by performing a nemaste - bringing their hands together in prayer and bowing their heads.

Camilla gave coins and notes wrapped in material to one of the priests to be placed at the shrine as a mark of respect.

The India Express newspaper has described the duchess as being “daisy fresh” on the visit to the country, and having “sailed right through” her public engagements. “The duchess came as a pleasant surprise,” it said.

Filed under: South Asia, Religion, India
26th March, 2006

Something for mothers day

by Sunny at 4:36 pm    

It’s Mothers Day today, as I found out to my embarassment in the afternoon after a stern announcement *cough*, despite hints all week and a massive banner stating the same at the local Tescos. Anyway, time for a public service announcement.

India has one of the worst rates of infant and maternal health in the world. Over a quarter of the world’s maternity related deaths occur in India and a staggering 1 in 15 babies die before their first birthday. The charity Child In Need Institute (CINI) are asking people to ‘adopt a mother for mothers day‘. £10 of Mother’s Care will give the mother of a severely malnourished child in India, somewhere to stay, food and emotional support while her child is nursed back to health in the Child In Need Institute’s Emergency Ward.

You’re not advised to tell your mum the reason you didn’t get her a present was because you’ve adopted another mother in India…

Filed under: South Asia, India
23rd March, 2006

Britons convicted in Mumbai paedophilia case

by Rohin at 12:08 am    

An Indian judge acts to “wipe the name of India from the map of sexual tourism” as he sentences two former British Navy officers of “unnatural sex acts” and conspiring to “obtain minors for immoral purposes”.

Lt Cdr Allan Waters, 57, and Duncan Grant, 61, were both jailed for six years each and ordered to pay £20,000 to their victims. Subsequently, child rights lawyers have called for a domestic inquiry as Waters worked with the British Sea Cadet Corps for over 30 years. Indeed it has now emerged that he was accused of abusing a sea cadet in the UK during the 1980s.

The court heard that the street boys, aged from eight to 18, were used as objects of “sexual lust” by Grant, Waters and several other foreigners who frequently took boys with them “on holiday” to coastal resorts in Goa.

Boys were also subjected to a brutal regime of corporal punishment in which they were stripped naked and regularly caned by Jesuit-educated Grant and the local manager of his shelter. [Daily Telegraph]

Continue Reading...
21st March, 2006

Cartoons! Religion! Again! Oh and scientology.

by Rohin at 7:31 pm    

Now now, don’t worry - nothing more about those cartoons. I’m sure some of you have realised I’m a bit of a cartoon and comic fan. I have been planning on a light-hearted post about the religious affiliations of superheroes for a while, so imagine my surprise when Isaac Hayes quit South Park a few days ago and today TIME ran a story about comics in Asia. Excellent.

Therefore, instead of a succinct and pithy post about superheroes and supervillains, I present to you a rambling and tenuously-linked confusion of a post. Yes that’s right, I’m back.

After the jump is pretty pic-heavy, owing to the subject of the post.

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Critical Thinking - Iqbal’s Shikwa

by Shariq at 12:39 am    

I’ve just finished reading the first part of Muhammad ‘Allama’ Iqbal’s classic ‘dialogue’ with Allah. Shikwa, or ‘Complaint’, first published in 1909 is a breathtaking piece of poetry. Seeing the plight of Muslims across the World, Iqbal passionately questions Allah on why he allowed such a situation to develop.

Not suprisingly the idea that God could wrong his people and was not carrying out his plans justly caused quite a stir. Despite the inevitable response of many traditionalists, Iqbal’s ideas have lived on and he is revered in Pakistan as her national poet.

I am not advocating that people read Shikwa and hold its text as sacred, or something which can not be questioned. There are some elements to do with conversion and Muslim superiority to which my reaction is somewhere, deeply uncomfortable and profound disagreement.

However to use this a stick with which to attack Iqbal completely misses the point. He was at once both a man of his times and ahead of his times. Above all it was his ability to think freely and outside of the traditional mold while contributing to the discourse of his times which made him great. The fact that his ideas were expressed in aesthetic and powerful poetry simply add to his greatness.

I’ll post on God’s response to Iqbal soon.

Filed under: Culture, Religion, Pakistan
20th March, 2006

“They almost never question the doctor”

by Rohin at 12:05 am    

Hello all. I shall endeavour to write at least a post or two about my time in the States, I did plenty of Hunter S. Thompson-esque article research for you lucky people. But first something I encountered via this month’s Wired magazine.

A Nation of Guinea Pigs is a hard-hitting piece written by Jennifer Kahn about how Big Pharma is outsourcing clinical trials to India, raising many concerns about the patients participating.

It’s a familiar tale. Huge and powerful Western company grows tired of spending what it sees as excessive amounts of money in the West and looks toward the developing world. Yet just as there are two sides to every business outsourcing story, it is likewise unfair to brand all clinical trials in India as unsettling. Some truly hold patient care paramount. Many will help people otherwise too poor to afford any treatment. But most won’t. Why elements of the medical world are somewhat concerned about this eastward trend in clinical trials is the sheer scale. Sean Philpott, managing editor of the American Journal of Bioethics, likened the shift to the nineteenth century gold rush:

“Not only are research costs low, but there is a skilled work force to conduct the trials,” he said. In the rush to reap profits, Philpott cautions that drug companies may not be sensitive to how poverty can undermine the spirit of informed consent. “Individuals who participate in Indian clinical trials usually won’t be educated. Offering $100 may be undue enticement; they may not even realize that they are being coerced,” he said.

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17th March, 2006

Is Pakistan about to split again?

by Fe'reeha at 1:29 pm    

It’s not an easy question. Nor is it pleasant. But violence and instability in the provinces of Frontier and Balochistan may be strong indicators of a tragedy waiting to strike.

There are really only two solutions.

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